Repairing Quilts

Many of you will be able to relate to this story!  In 1995, a group of women started meeting at my house each month to make a primitive Baltimore album quilt based on an old pattern by Judie Rothmel.  (It is no longer available so stop drooling!)

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I hung the quilt top in my shop and the sun faded some of the appliques so badly that I threw it in a closet and didn’t look at it again until last month!  That’s right – 18 years later!

As you can see in the above picture, reds faded to pink and in other blocks a blue fabric just plain faded!

Two of the gals in that original group still come to my house once a month and I mentioned that I had pulled out this quilt and showed them the sun damage.  They BOTH had the quilt with the exact same fabric in a box in their sewing room.  They hadn’t finished it either!

The next day, Sandy Corbett showed up on my door with fabrics so I could repair my quilt!  She even had a typed list – that’s right – typed on a typewriter with carbons no less – of everyone that was in the class with contact information!  How funny!

With their help, here is how I repaired the quilt…

In the above picture, the two reds on top had faded.  The top left applique has been removed.  I had removed the fabric behind the applique because I had planned to hand quilt it (you can laugh now too.)

I removed all of the faded appliques and literally placed them on the glass of my copier – and ran a copy….

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Then I ironed freezer paper to the wrong side of this copy to create a very crisp template.  When I cut them out, my templates were the exact shape of the applique I removed!

I glued them to the wrong side of the appropriate fabric with the print side down.  (If I would have placed the print side up, the turned applique would be a mirror image of the piece I needed.)

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Then I turned them with a glue stick.  I needed to place these over the “holes” in the quilt top – and since the backing was already cut, they had to fit perfectly.  I placed the block on the ironing board and ironed the shiny side of freezer paper to the wrong side of the fabric so the fabric wouldn’t stretch under the applique.

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This freezer paper stabilizer was suggested by another student, Kay Bennett and was brilliant for several reasons.  When I placed the appliques on the right side of the quilt top, I ironed them in place.  The freezer paper “stuck” to the applique and helped keep it in place.  I still glued around the entire outside edge of the applique to hold it in place – but this definitely helped.  And, I also ran basting stitches through the appliques so I wouldn’t loose them.

This freezer paper also made it easier to hand applique these pieces.  Since I was appliqueing pieces in the middle of a full size quilt, there was a lot of bulk.  I could just fold the top under the freezer paper.  My needle glided over the freezer paper so I never caught the rest of the quilt when stitching!

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Worked like a charm!  Now all I have to do is remove my basting stitches (I kept it there so you could see which ones I replaced.  In this particular block, I didn’t match the fabrics because this was originally a scrappy quilt and there were other blocks with multiple colors.

If the quilt top had been quilted, I could have appliqued over what was already there.  To replace the quilting, flip the quilt over and duplicate the stitching by quilting over the lines from the back.

By the way, this method works perfectly for pieced quilts as well.  Run a copy of the square or triangle that needs replaced and applique it on top.

There are two morals to this story!  First, I had spent at least 100 hours on this quilt and put it aside for 18 years – and repaired it and got it ready for the quilter in six hours!!!

Second, get a list of everyone who is in every class you take!  You never know when you may need to “borrow” some fabric!


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